@gregrocker i'll thank you not to scold me and point you to the previously stated fact that i have been busy with my son this week. I work on this maybe an hour a day at the moment. How dare you insinuate - no, falsely accuse - me of "doing things the way I want so I can blame Windows." I have 20+ years of experience and blaming anyone is always a last resort. Blaming doesn't solve anything, and I want to get this solved.
Contrary to your negative image of me, I am listening to other's advice, most of which I've tried *before* the advice was given, in the order it was given.
Regarding the "diskpart clean command," i haven't gotten to that yet, because i have a system which boots at the moment, and i'm trying to figure out which of the infernal updates causes the problem.
But, honestly, the hard disk was BRAND NEW, so clearly there was no boot sector defined that needed to be cleared. And these problems occurred. I will try your suggestion when the path I'm on - which is bearing some fruit/ideas - turns into a dead end.
And, secondly, it seems highly suspect that a system with a corrupt boot sector would work fine and only exhibit problems after updates were done.
I have worked with computers for far too long to believe any "guarantee" that one thing or another cannot happen, or will not happen, or can't possibly act in a certain way.
That being said, yes, I need to try the sfc /scannow and the diskpart options, when the opportunity presents itself.
I'll keep you posted, but please refrain from the attitude displayed above.
Latest Update: when presented with 108 important updates available, I selected only the "Update for Windows 7 for x64-based Systems" of which there were 33.
Downloaded, installed, reboot - WORKS!
After making an image of the partition, I'm trying the updates labeled "Security Update for Windows 7 for x64-based systems." Wish me luck.